Towards a more efficient prison system with EU support

Sem Fabrizi, Ambassador, Head of the EU Delegation in Serbia; Nela Kuburović, Minister of Justice of the Republic of Serbia; Catalin Bejan , RTA of the Project; Dr. Wolfgang Brandstetter, Vice-Chancellor of Austria, and Katharina Tegeder, IRZ (from left to right)
The opening ceremony

The Republic of Serbia Ministry of Justice and the European Union launched an eighteen-month Twinning project “Improving capacities and capabilities within the prison system in the Republic of Serbia”, which is being implemented in partnership with Germany and Austria. The project, which is worth 1 million EUR, has the objective to improve the prison system of the Republic of Serbia through a transfer of experiences, expertise and good practices developed in EU member countries.

The opening ceremony marking the start of the project was held on 15 September 2017 at the Palace of Serbia and audiences were addressed by:

  • Sem Fabrizi, Ambassador, Head of the EU Delegation in Serbia
  • Dr. Wolfgang Brandstetter, Vice-Chancellor of Austria
  • Nela Kuburović, Minister of Justice of the Republic of Serbia
  • Dušan Čarkić, Assistant Minister of Finance Contracts and Financing of EU Funded Projects (CFCU) and
  • Katharina Tegeder, Coordinator for EU-projects, IRZ

IRZ as the Lead Member State Partner was entrusted with responsibility to successfully carry out the implementation of the project, supported by the Agency for Economic Cooperation and Development (aed) from Austria as the Junior Member State Partner.

Implementation phase commenced on 04 July 2017 with the arrival of the Resident Twinning Adviser, Catalin Bejan, in Serbia. Our project team is located in the premises of the Centre for Training and Vocational Education of the Administration for Enforcement of Penal Sanctions in Niš from where they will coordinate the implementation.

In accordance with the real need to continue to strengthen the capacities of the prison system in the Republic of Serbia, the Twinning Project is funded by the EU and designed to contribute to the professional development of prison staff through improving the quality of their education and training in order to strengthen the overall capacities of the Administration for Enforcement of Penal Sanctions.

Over the next 18 months, experts from the Germany and Austria will work closely with colleagues from the Administration for Enforcement of Penal Sanctions. A series of analysis, training seminars, workshops, study visits and meetings will be organised in order to improve the employability of convicted persons while also improving the living and working conditions within the prison system in Serbia.

More specifically, project experts will work on the improvement of organisational and technical capacities of the Centre for Training and Vocational Education of the Administration for Enforcement of Penal Sanctions in Niš which will help to prepare and deliver training programmes for the staff employed within the system of enforcement of criminal sanctions. A number of training sessions will be organised for the staff of the security service, treatment service and health service in the institutes for enforcement of criminal sanctions as well as vocational education of female inmates in the Penal Correctional Institute in Požarevac.

The project is principally funded by the EU and co-funded by the Republic of Serbia. The beneficiary of this project is the Administration for Enforcement of Penal Sanctions of the Ministry of Justice, while the contracting authority on behalf of Serbia is the Department for Contracting and Financing of EU Funded Programs.


Funded by the European Union


Judges and journalists discuss the media in Belgrade

On 12 May 2017, the Judges’ Association of Serbia and the IRZ organised a conference on “Justice and the Media” as part of their long-standing cooperation. Law professionals and journalists were invited to attend the event. In fact, the latter made up by far the majority of the speakers. The demands made by the press on the justice system were therefore a focal point of the conference. This led to a lively but harmonious discussion, with both points of view being put across. 

The event was opened with welcome speeches by the Serbian Secretary of State for Justice, Čedomir Backović, and the permanent representative of the German Embassy, Alexander Jung. Snežana Bjelogrlić, President of the Management Committee for the Judges’ Association of Serbia, and Dr. Stefan Pürner from the  IRZ opened the conference on behalf of the event organisers.

The Serbian speakers were

  • Dragana Boljević, President of the Judges’ Association of Serbia,
  • Vojislava Crnjanski Spasojević, a journalist for the Večernje novosti daily newspaper and
  • Bojana Mladjenović from the state broadcasting company, RTV.

Dr. Wolfgang Janisch, a correspondent for the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and Deputy Chairman of the Judicial Press Conference of Karlsruhe shed light on the situation in Germany.

The importance of this event is also underlined by the fact that participants included representatives of the OSCE and the Prosecutional Council, as well as members of the courts and the media. The news agency Tanjug and state broadcasting company RTV reported extensively on the event.

The conference can be summed up by the statement that the justice system and media must work together but that they have different expectations. This requires a constant dialogue to be maintained, to which events such as this one contribute. The media need to take into account the fact that, in today's changing media landscape, staff resources for reporting on justice are constantly being cut. This makes it all the more important for law professionals to  support the media with active press work. Ohterwise is a risk of the activity of the justice system being distorted in public perception.

Conference in Palić for insurance experts from eight countries

On 21 and 22 April, the international conference “Proportionality and legal certainty in insurance law” took place in Palić, Serbia. The event was jointly organised by the Association for Insurance Law of Serbia and the Association of Serbian Insurers on the one hand, and the IRZ and the German Insurance Association (GDV) on the other.

The programme of this traditional conference included presentations by insurance experts from the following eight countries: Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Germany, Italy, Malta, the host country Serbia, Slovenia and Turkey.

As Serbia is preparing a new codification of its insurance and insurance contract law as part of the drafting of a future civil law, the different presentations and notes dealing with comparative law, in particular, met with great interest. These presentations, as well as the presentations by the lecturers from Southeastern Europe, focused on the German and Austrian insurance law.

The German lecturers were Frank Jungermann, Judge at the Higher Regional Court of Hamm, and Stefan Lösch, GDV, whose presentations on the German case law and on consumer protection were each followed by questions from interested participants.